Royal College of Art Works-In-Progress Show 2014

The Royal College of Art Vehicle Design program recently held an event to showcase the ongoing work of its upcoming graduation class. From vehicles that seek instill a sense of well-being to new mobility concepts and yachts, there were a number of new concepts on show from the 30 MA students. Here are four that caught our eye.

Bentley Sterling
Jannis Carius

Looking for alternatives to the current disposable culture, Jannis Carius sought to create an heirloom, a vehicle that will have an emotional connection with a user so that it is passed down from generation to generation rather than discarded at the end of its use.

Sponsored by Bentley, the concept employs a sterling motor, a highly efficient and durable closed-cycle heat engine that uses temperature to compress and expands air or gas to provide mechanical momentum. “The motor can run without creating pollution as long as the energy source doesn‘t produce any,” cites Carius, who inherited a sterling motor from his grandfather.

“This led me to the idea I should move away from the common black box design of today and show the mechanics in a mystical, luxurious and interesting way,” says Carius. “The perfect combination of simplicity and mechanical fascination makes a design remain valuable through time.”

Carius tried different methods to create shapes, exploring glass as well as new ways to create a quick physical 3D model. “3D sketching is a very interesting way to show rough shapes to get a better feeling for the proportions,” he notes.

Employing this method, Carius used a pen to heat plastic before sketching with it. “It cools down and becomes hard very fast so that it keeps the shape.”

While the sterling motor has its roots as an alternative to steam power in the early 1800s, Carius notes that NASA is currently experimenting with it as an alternative power source for future vehicles. “They were able to make a sterling hybrid 30% more efficient than a traditional combustion engine. Today, not even electric motors can be that efficient.”

Water Living Form
Andrea Bottigliero

The ‘Water Living Form’ is a speed yacht conceptual sculpture, which aims to fuse water and object. The piece is both an abstract and a realistic representation of a speed yacht form, which is covered by water and is at its maximum speed.

”My aim is to create something that comes from the water and lives with it,” says Andrea Bottigliero. “Rather than just putting something on top of it that looks like a polluting building on the sea.”

Using water as the creator of design and technology, the shape starts with an aerodynamic and smooth form to finally disappear in water waves. The image of the shape is only captured when it is trying to get out of the water.

“My inspiration comes from nature, renaissance art and from all those universal laws that give beauty and efficiency to natural creatures,” says Bottigliero.

The design represents an attempt to bring a more artistic and philosophical approach to the yacht design field, which leads to a new sea living experience for users.

BMW iC2 concept
Nicholas Lee Dunderdale

Nicholas Dunderdale runs a successful freelance architectural business and has had experience working at Bertone. Fresh from having won the prestigious BMW Young Designer’s award for his project at the Festival International Automobile in Paris, Dunderdale presented the workings of his concept to us.

Called the iC2 — a revisit of the nomenclature of the innovative C1 enclosed motorbike built by Bertone for BMW in 1999 blended with BMW’s new i sub-brand — the concept is essentially a vehicle made up of two parts. Each two-wheeled section can be used as a motorbike for the weekly commute, combining the two personal vehicles together can form a multi-passenger vehicle.

“In an ever growing population where energy becomes increasing rare the BMW iC2 creates a new form of vehicle stripped to its pure essence providing maximum function will still maintaining luxury and driving pleasure,” says Dunderdale.

By merging BMW’s existing vehicle architectures the concept can be made to offer the performance and practicality of a Z4 on the weekend as well as the mobility, agility and economy of two BMW motorbikes during the working week.

Though certain to be a thrilling driver’s car, don’t confuse it with the V12 powered Nazca C2 designed by Italdesign for BMW in 1991. This ain’t it.

Xiangyin Yao

Previewing the impending arrival of autonomous vehicles, Xiangyin Yao is creating a vehicle concept that focuses on users’ wellbeing when commuting in their vehicles. As such, she imagined a relaxing space where individuals could unwind after a hard day’s work.

“Cars transfer us between different environments,” says Yao. “It is important for us to get refreshed during these journeys and be ready for the next scene in our lives.”

FRESH AIR* concept by Xiangyin Yao

The vehicle focuses on breathing, both in a literal and philosophical sense, as well as the quality of the air we breathe. Yao also looked into creating natural forms and materials to make a tangible form language from the natural elements of air creating a dialogue between nature and artifact.

“Is it possible that through control the air in the car to help create a better driving experience and in the end leads to a better and healthier lifestyle?” she asks.

We’re anxiously awaiting to see how Yao answers this question and looking forward to seeing all of the final projects, which will be revealed in all their glory at the RCA Vehicle Design graduation show this June.


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